Monday, November 25, 2013

the book where a neuroscientist dies and goes to heaven

he describes death as heaven
upward into the snail shell spiral
of white and musical color.
a Nabokov experience 
of afterlife, where each reality
is seen twice in the brain.
i hold the yoga pose 
awkwardly, forward thrusting jaw,
the thin foil skin of my abdomen
puckering slightly where the fat lets loose.
i just need enough to hold on to
i think in my yoga-centric way
to pass peace on to my children
so they will not be afraid to watch me die
or afraid to die themselves.
the pinnacle of parenting and wisdom
might be half in teaching how to live
half in teaching how to die.
a little death, every day
loss in every twenty four hour:
a dog, sunglasses, the earbuds again,
best friend moves, favorite lipstick recalled,
the slant of sun there every day
suddenly gone.
ah- we could say, wise and peaceful-
i will simply move like a cat
and lay elsewhere.
he described heaven after fifty two years
of not believing we are more than synapses
firing and misfiring in the dark
now he believes there is everything
we do not know, everything we do not comprehend,
and that we are a part of all of this unknown
even after the slant of sun has taken it's invisible being
and moved where we cannot see.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

Daniel Menaker's piece What Does the Publishing World Look Like On the Inside? reminded me of Nora Ephron, a touch more cynical. I loved this- touched on my late in life realization that in most areas of life, the people who are 'experts' are often decidedly not so.

Lena Dunham and David Sedaris….sigh.

The Year I Didn't Kill Myself by Gabrielle Calvocoressi…the title sums it up.


I'm on Henry's sixth wife and love this page that matches Tudor scenes and art work with the real life inspirations behind them.

Jennifer Pastilof always has truly amazing stories or thoughtful points of view from guest posters on her blog Manifest-Station. This is no exception.

I loved this post so hard. Dudes are Such Whiny Baby Liars About Girls With Short Hair

I have mentioned Madonna Badger on Flux before. I started following her on Twitter and FB some time after her three daughters- all her children- and her parents were killed in a house fire on Christmas Eve. That sentence is hard to even write. This interview with her is similar to watching a delicate flower be buried in snow and frozen half dead, stomped on mercilessly by nature and then somehow survive for the slant of sun that follows.

Full Grown People, an essay on Comma Momma, is written about a different type of relationship than I have with my daughters, and I still found it so familiar because her writing is so dazzlingly honest and to the heart of the matter. Beautiful.

Can A Writer Escape Vulnerability in The New Yorker made my brain have a hard on. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ever Elizabeth's Early 3rd Birthday Party

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.”
Pablo Neruda

“So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.”
Robert Frost

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?”
Lin Yutang

“Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child.”
Barbara Alpert

“I also believe that parents, if they love you, will hold you up safely, above their swirling waters, and sometimes that means you'll never know what they endured, and you may treat them unkindly, in a way you otherwise wouldn't.”
Mitch Albom

“One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.”
Jonathan Safran Foer

"We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend"
Robert Louis Stevenson

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
Frederick Buechner

“You are born into your family and your family is born into you. No returns. No exchanges.”
Elizabeth Berg

“These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot remember entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart.”
Pat Conroy

“Well, one can't get over the habit of being a little girl all at once.”
LM Montgomery

“I know how syrupy this sounds, how dull, provincial, and possibly whitewashed, but what can I do? Happy childhoods happen”
Marisa De Los Santos

“Little girls are the nicest things that happen to people”
Allen Beck

“What was wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world.”
GK Chesterson

Monday, November 18, 2013


am i enough of what should be
for you to lay down the anchor the sword

the killing that's killing me?

baby blood leaks from your capillaries
while you tell me you are fine just fine

all the love i had
not enough

i couldn't wait to hold us together
broken angles and bones and nobody home

all the love i had
a bluff

i can't take you home
i am home

you are home-
where can anyone go?

baby your hands, workman hands torn up
while you tell me you are new brand new

all the love i had
love i have for you

but i know that home remains an illusion,
my freckles find a field to lay and brown.

i miss your irish eyes and the breath of your breath
baby you say fine and fine is death

all the love in the world
circles round our heads like vultures

i am selling a dream and the dream sells well
we all want  a happy ending

without anything ending.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My First Ebook with Shebooks & A Writing Contest

I have a publishing contract. This is so rad, this is so good, this is so worked for! Shebooks is a new publishing company put together by some powerful and talented women in writing and publishing. It is an online format that will charge a subscription fee month by month to read short ebooks written by women authors- novella length. With an amazing line-up of women writers, Shebook plans to launch in January and is working with Good Housekeeping and BlogHer for promotions and connections.

My Ebook is Scenes From A Marriage, the idea taken from my blog posts here and expanded into a cohesive telling of our story. I am thrilled to be working for and with these women.

Shebooks is holding a contest, for all you women writers out there. Here is a link about it. They are looking for a memoir about mothers or mothering, with a prize of $2000 and a publishing contract. Sweet.

you are the one

Monday, November 11, 2013

jump for your love ( my 39th birthday )

I turned 39 November 10.

To celebrate, all six of us plus E., Lola's best friend and a family member at this point, went to the new local trampoline jump. AND JUMPED OUR LITTLE BUTTS OFF.* We had so much fun. I was smiling like a fool- the most happy- the entire time. Afterward, we met my mom and she took us all to dinner, and after that, all the kids watched a bad movie with me. Mr. Curry had work and went to bed on time. Like a boss.

For my birthday, Mr. Curry had the kids clean, and he brought me breakfast and Starbucks, and took the kids shopping to get a present for me which was bright colored purple running shoes with neon laces- LOVE. Speaking of, that picture Mr. Curry took of my butt made me happy,  because I've been working really hard the last three months- working out five days a week and running two or three of those times, and it is paying off. My body feels like mine again, strong and capable.

*Helpful Hint- if you've had kids and go to a trampoline house, wear a mini pad. Because you might or might not pee yourself.

Friday, November 8, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

Take a seat and read!

No One Brings You Dinner When Your Daughter's An Addict- I have written about this exact thing myself, the fact that physical illness brings much support in every way, while mental illness brings, too often, silence and isolation.

A Real Time Map Of Births and Deaths Around The World

A tiny symbol of an airplane on Google maps turns into a staggering story of loss, memory and the power of symbol and art.

Treating an Ulcer Without Medication

I just finished reading Vera, by Stacy Schiff, on the life of Vera Nabokov, wife of Vladimir. An engrossing biography that won the Pulitzer prize. I became interested to know what was happening with their only child, son Dmitri, and when I looked, I found this.

This woman's essay is unusually good. If There Was A God, She Has a British Accent at Life, Redacted

Half of All Babies Use a Smartphone Before Age 2. Here's Why That's Bad

A human story from my hometown, Mississippi

8 Foods The Experts Won't Eat

20 Ways To Help Prevent Child Abuse

And~ I had to add this one last minute, because IT IS EVER ELIZABETH as someone else's child. Rebecca gives us ten ways to deal with a spirited child. Yo. And, I totally agree with the look the other way when the sibling is helping thing. I let Lola do this with Ever. It's more important they have that bond and trust and intimacy than I control it all. xo


for there are quiet ghosts afoot
who walk aside our mouths
and breathe the air we expel easily
with love, in and out.

they smooth our hair, 
marvel at our shiny nails
the thud of our feet on concrete
the tiny blast of air in exhales. 

for breathing is their preoccupation
breath- the ghosts of the living
where our souls enter and exit ceaselessly
until they day that life stops giving.

they think to kiss our lips
and come back to ticking clocks
but nothing brings them body or mind
for there is nothing that death cannot stop.

but love! the audience cries.
what about love, you forget!
they cannot see my tears-
i have not cried them yet.

for i hold all my sorrows
like jewels for the crown
if love survives this place
i will gladly weep, and drown.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reluctant Teachers

The hyper awareness of my own mind and thoughts after my two friend's death is in stark contrast to my sense of deep loss yet peace after my Grandmother Elizabeth died. I am lucky, just lucky very lucky that I have not had to deal with much loss that is close to the bone. My Grandparents are the only people that I was very close to who have died, and both died, while at the end of a long and complicated life, at the end of a long and complicated life. If you see what I mean. My friends, on the other hand... Michelle died in her forties of metatastic breast cancer after five years of battling the disease. She left behind a husband two young children. Carrie died this week of complications from the brutal surgery of her ovarian cancer, complications that I cannot begin to let my mind truly approach, the details being so terrifying and upsetting that I do not let myself dwell. I find my brain returning there, anyhow, despite my protestations, hovering over a distant and blurred image. 

When I was twelve or maybe thirteen, I read Rilla of Ingleside, the last book in the series of Anne of Green Gables, and definitely the most dark of all the books. War has come to Anne and her family. Anne's son is terrified of war, and death- but most of all, of suffering. He is a sensitive poet and not brave at all, he tells his sister, not the kind of man who can face what he imagines to be the utmost suffering, the bayonet. He cannot bear it if he is called off to war, and yet, just as in life, he is called anyhow. He goes, and is killed. But not before finding peace. Not before finding he can do the thing that could not be done. And this is my lifelong fervent desire- to find a place of internal peace and meaning so fortified and true that nothing can kill it. Lifelong desire? Yes. I have always remembered- not forgotten and then remembered at a later age, but simply never forgotten- one day in elementary school. I was playing tether-ball on the courtyard and the sky was overcast. There were, as always, throngs of kids around me, playing ball and four square and running. I stood still and let the tether-ball swing round without hitting it, for at that exact moment, watching all my running moving living classmates, I had the impossible but absolute realization that one day, every single one of them was going to die. Every. Single. One. This is how it echoed in my head. I saw the courtyard empty. I realized that the only thing that might be left of where I was, one day, was this overcast sky above my head. And I was filled with the desire to find the secret to life- how to live so that your impending death cannot make you feel like nothing.

You can see I was not invited to many parties.

For a few horrible years I struggled terribly with a fear of death, until one day, I was not afraid of simply death- a new fear had taken place in my mind, one that I can now see was parallel with the emotional suffering I lived with, a fear of suffering and early death. So now I was afraid of two things, whereas before I was only afraid of plain old endless eternal death. Thank God I was a reader and thank God my parents gave me access to not only all and any books that filled our home, but as many books as I cared to take from the library. Books were the only light in that endless tunnel. I could read about how other people feared the exact same thing as I did, what they went through and most importantly, what they learned. I wanted to understand what made some people able to face life's worst with their own best. I wanted to understand how I could do that too.

Carrie had died. She died at 42 and was a single mother to one beautiful boy named Gabriel. She was a  wonderful mother and a good friend. She suffered, physically and emotionally. It is very important here that I explain that I cannot speak for most of Carrie's experience. We were friends but not best friends, and although I heard much from her in writing about her experience, I am sure that is only a drop in the bucket of what she felt and thought. I cannot honestly say what she went through, because as a writer I am all too aware of how we pick and choose what we reveal. I am not writing about what Carrie did or did not do and would feel gross in doing so. I am writing about how her death has affected me. Were Carrie and I very close, I think this timeline would be different.  For me, it was the doppleganger of what is presently almost my worst fear in life- to die when my children are still young, to suffer, and most importantly to me, to be afraid. No- to be terrified. Of course I recognize fully the complete banality of this fear, the commonality. My fear, Carrie's fear, is most of our fears. I have lived in fear for most of my life. I do remember some years in the beginning where I was not afraid. I remember that peace. But most of my life, I have been afraid, and later in my childhood and all throughout my pre-teen and teen years, I was deeply afraid, all the time. When I saw Carrie suffering, I wanted to stop it. Half of this was because I wanted to stop it, and half of this was because I wanted her to show me how to do so.

That incredibly selfish and self absorbed desire was aborted immediately as I recognized it. You see how many times I have written ' I ' in these words? That is because as you have realized, despite the fact that Carrie died, my puny little mind is still revolving it around me. My heart, my spirit- no. I pray for Carrie and her son and her family off and on all day. But my mind, trying to grasp the enormity of her death, flails around like a fish on land. I can only hook my brain into what is alive, and that is my memories of Carrie, which are stored in my brain, and my own thoughts and feelings about mortality.

After my grandparents died, I had none of this. I did not feel selfish, nor do I remember constantly relating their deaths to other things or mulling over them, trying to learn something or understand something. This is because I was at peace with their deaths. I can wrap my mind around dying old and loved. But when faced with the overwhelming truth of what happened to Carrie, my spirit quakes.
I want something solid to hold on to. I have been watching The Tudors, and happen to be right at the moment in time when poor doomed Queen Anne Boleyn and her falsely accused lovers are all executed- beheaded. As Anne wailed in horror and despair watching her brother being murdered from the Tower of London, I wondered what peace there could be to be had there. I know it's possible-for some. Other people have faced as much and found peace and courage. Sometimes I wonder if it's possible for me to find this kind of deep inner peace, because I have no deep faith in God as I understand it/him/her, and my brain has been wracked with fear and sadness my entire life. Just today I read an article in NPR about a new study showing what we already know, which is that children who have great trauma and fear have brains that do not process fear normally. They end up, essentially, afraid of everything. 

In place of a wonderfully shored up brain and a deep religious faith, I will have to put my strong belief in love and it's powers and meaning, the actions of my life, and a study in those who came before me and learned what I am still learning. Death or suffering reminds me, profoundly, of why some choose to make their life about learning how to be alive, while the rest of us run around trying to make a life out of much ado about nothing with moments of meaning. When faced with the worst of the human experience, we want solace so badly, but can we find it if we put no time in looking?

Do I believe that if we just try hard enough, we can always overcome suffering? Of course not. Maybe that is our destiny as human beings, but we aren't there yet. I imagine the worst, and I cannot imagine how I would 'overcome' it, to such degree that it has to be put in quotes. But. It is, and always has been, my deepest instinct is that alongside the greatest terror and horrors we can imagine ( which, nowadays, are expansive ) there is also a river that runs through it, some kind of access to a great belonging and peace. If that is annoyingly obtuse, I apologize. You are the recipient of merely the contents of my inferior brain and what I can pull forth from my heart, and if you find it paltry, imagine how I feel. But I refer back to the teachers, many of whom- all?- were furious, fucking furious at being put in that role. Nobody wants to be a fucking TEACHER. We don't want to suffer so others can learn their lessons. We want our lives as they are- beautiful and messy and painful and awkward and weird and lovely and joyful and horrible and exhausting and interesting and all of it- in private. Not to be Angelina and Brad, a lesson for everyone else on how to survive in a bubble. But those people are there, and I watch them. 

Madonna Badger. I don't know if you know of her, but she is the mother of three beautiful little girls who are all now dead. Her three girls died in a house fire on Christmas a few years back. I saw the news report at the time and filled with the awe and horror that probably every parent felt seeing that news report. Somehow I found Madonna on Twitter and followed her. She wasn't on Twitter anymore so I don't know why I followed her. She hadn't posted since her daughter's deaths. But at some point, she did, and she linked to her FB page, and she followed me back, and I have been 'watching her' ever since. For a long time, she barely lived. She was almost brain dead. I think of how your heart can be stunned still by a virus, and sometimes, the doctors will say the heart muscle died, when really it's not dead, it's temporarily paralyzed by the virus. When tragedies too big to process happen to people, it seems like this happens to the brain. Madonna moved in with her good friend at some point, and just stumbled around the house for months, a year, just holding on to life, barely. After a long time more, she ventured further, on the road and eventually into town. Stumbling around but around. Finally she reached a point where her brain started to wake up, just a tiny bit, out of the constant enormous suffering. Lately she's been posting pictures on her Facebook page. She's been giving out gifts in orphanages in some part of the other side of the world. She's hugging the children. She's riding an elephant. She's talking about love.

Part of me imagines the worst and wants to erase every fucking word I just wrote. Because see, immediately with that kind of horror I feel a rage at the facts of life. The facts of life as Carrie knew them were, among many others, that she got cancer and died young, being forced to leave behind her young son. What if, I wonder, those were my facts?

" When the mind thinks of death, it looks at it and calls it something to keep from experiencing what it- the mind- really is. Unless you know that death is equal to life, you'll always try to control what happens, and it's always going to hurt. There is no sadness without a story that opposes reality. The fear of death is the last smokescreen for the fear of love. We think we're afraid of the death of the body, though what we're really afraid of is the death of our identity. But through inquiry, as we understand that death is just a concept, and that our identity is just a concept too, we come to realize who we are. This is the end of fear. "

" Did you have a foot before you thought of it? When there is no thought, there is no foot. When there's no thought of death, there is no death. "

" Everyone can accept death. Everyone does. There's no decision in death. People who know there is no hope are free. The decision's out of their hands. It has always been that way, but some people have to die bodily to find out. No wonder they smile on their deathbeds. Dying is everything they were looking for in life. Their delusion of being in charge is over. When there's no choice, there's no fear. They realize they're home and that they never left. "

-all quotes Byron Katie

These are the quotes from a book by Byron Katie I read weeks ago. These are the kinds of ideas I like to torture myself with. I don't know what I think about it, and I can't yet make my brain really slow down enough to process these thoughts in the deep and thoughtful way that they require, but I do believe there is a lot to be gained from thinking about these things, from reading about things I don't understand or even agree with, and from watching the teachers, reluctant though they may be.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Carrie Brown

My beautiful friend Carrie Brown has died. Today I am enveloped and infused with grief for her and her son. Please pray for Carrie wherever however, and her son Gabriel. She also leaves behind her parents and sister and loving friends and family.
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